Nehemiah 5:6
And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
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(6) And I was very angry.—Nehemiah, recently arrived, had not known this state of things. The common wailing and the three complaints in which it found expression are distinct.

Nehemiah 5:6-7. Then I was very angry — Grieved exceedingly at this sin of the nobles. Then I consulted with myself — I restrained the emotions of my mind, being afraid to do any thing in a fit of anger or vexation and coolly considered, and deliberated with myself, what was best to be done. And I rebuked the nobles and rulers — Who were the moneyed men, and whose power, perhaps, made them more bold to oppress; and said, You exact usury every one from his brother — Which was against the plain and positive law of God, (Deuteronomy 23:19-20,) especially in this time of public calamity and dearth. And I set a great assembly against them — I called a public congregation, both of the rulers and people, the greatest part whereof were free from this guilt, and therefore more impartial judges of the matter, and I represented it to them, that the offenders might be convinced and reformed; if not for fear of God, or love of their brethren, yet at least for the public shame, and the cries of the poor. Ezra and Nehemiah were both good and useful men; but of how different tempers! Ezra was a man of a mild, tender spirit, and when told of the sin of the rulers, rent his clothes and wept. Nehemiah forced them to reform, being of a warm and eager spirit. So God’s work may be done, and yet different methods taken in doing it; which is a good reason why we should not arraign the management of others, nor make our own a standard.5:6-13 Nehemiah knew that, if he built Jerusalem's walls ever so high, so thick, or so strong, the city could not be safe while there were abuses. The right way to reform men's lives, is to convince their consciences. If you walk in the fear of God, you will not be either covetous of worldly gain, or cruel toward your brethren. Nothing exposes religion more to reproach, than the worldliness and hard-heartedness of the professors of it. Those that rigorously insist upon their right, with a very ill grace try to persuade others to give up theirs. In reasoning with selfish people, it is good to contrast their conduct with that of others who are liberal; but it is best to point to His example, who though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we, through his poverty, might be rich, 2Co 8:9. They did according to promise. Good promises are good things, but good performances are better.The power of a father to sell his daughter into slavery is expressly mentioned in the Law Exodus 21:7. The power to sell a son appears from this passage. In either case, the sale held good for only six years, or until the next year of jubilee (see the marginal references). Ne 5:6-19. The Usurers Rebuked.

6-12. I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words—When such disorders came to the knowledge of the governor, his honest indignation was roused against the perpetrators of the evil. Having summoned a public assembly, he denounced their conduct in terms of just severity. He contrasted it with his own in redeeming with his money some of the Jewish exiles who, through debt or otherwise, had lost their personal liberty in Babylon. He urged the rich creditors not only to abandon their illegal and oppressive system of usury, but to restore the fields and vineyards of the poor, so that a remedy might be put to an evil the introduction of which had led to much actual disorder, and the continuance of which would inevitably prove ruinous to the newly restored colony, by violating the fundamental principles of the Hebrew constitution. The remonstrance was effectual. The conscience of the usurious oppressors could not resist the touching and powerful appeal. With mingled emotions of shame, contrition, and fear, they with one voice expressed their readiness to comply with the governor's recommendation. The proceedings were closed by the parties binding themselves by a solemn oath, administered by the priests, that they would redeem their pledge, as well as by the governor invoking, by the solemn and significant gesture of shaking a corner of his garment, a malediction on those who should violate it. The historian has taken care to record that the people did according to this promise.

No text from Poole on this verse. And I was very angry when I heard their cry, and these words. Their complaint expressed in this manner; it not only raised pity and compassion in his breast towards these poor distressed people, but indignation at the rich that oppressed them. And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
6. I was very angry, &c.] Nehemiah’s indignation was excited at the excessive usury, which his own brethren and servants required (Nehemiah 5:10), but still more at the degree to which the brotherhood of Israel was forgotten in days of common peril and of which the sale of fellow-countrymen for debt (Nehemiah 5:8) and the alienation of the poor man’s inheritance (Nehemiah 5:11) were the worst symptoms. Cf. Psalm 119:53 ‘Hot indignation hath taken hold upon me, because of the wicked that forsake thy law.’Verse 6. - I was very angry. It is not clear that the letter of the law was infringed, unless it were in the matter of taking interest (ver. 11), of which the people had not complained. That men might sell their daughters to be concubines or secondary wives is clear from Exodus 21:7; and it is therefore probable that they might sell their sons for servants. But the servitude might only be for six years (Exodus 21:2); and if a jubilee year occurred before the sexennial period was out, the service was ended (Leviticus 25:10). Land too might be either mortgaged or sold (ibid. vers. 14-16), but under the condition that it returned to the seller, or at any rate to his tribe, in the jubilee year (ibid. vers. 10, 13). The spirit, however, of the law - the command, "Ye shall not oppress one another" (ibid. vers. 14, 17) - was transgressed by the proceedings of the rich men. It was their duty in a time of scarcity not to press hard upon their poorer brethren, but freely to alleviate their necessities. Nehemiah, his near relations, and his followers had done so to the utmost of their power (ver. 10, with the comment). The rich men had acted differently, and made all the profit that they could out of the need of their fellow-countrymen. Hence Nehemiah's anger. Nehemiah, moreover, and his brethren (his kinsmen and the members of his house), and his servants, and the men of the guard in his retinue, were constantly in their clothes ("not putting off our clothes" to rest). The last words, המּים שׁלחו אישׁ are very obscure, and give no tolerable sense, whether we explain המּים of water for drinking or washing. Luther translates, Every one left off washing; but the words, Every one's weapon was water, can never bear this sense. Roediger, in Gesen. Thes. s.v. שׁלח, seeks to alter המים into בידו, to which Bttcher (N. krit. Aehrenl. iii. p. 219) rightly objects: "how could בידו have been altered into המּים, or המּים have got into the text at all, if some portion of it had not been originally there? What this בידו expresses, would be far more definitely given with the very slight correction of changing the closing ם of המּים, and reading המינו equals המינוּ (comp. 2 Samuel 14:19); thus each had taken his missile on the right (in his right hand), naturally that he might be ready to discharge it in case of a hostile attack." This conjecture seems to us a happy emendation of the unmeaning text, since נוּ might easily have been changed into ם; and we only differ in this matter from Bttcher, by taking שׁלח in its only legitimate meaning of weapon, and translating the words: And each laid his weapon on the right, viz., when he laid himself down at night to rest in his clothes, to be ready for fighting at the first signal from the watch.
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